104' craft-built yacht that played a unique role in U.S. presidential history
is at risk of being purchased by a foreign company.
U.S.S. Sequoia, first pushed into
government service in 1931 by President Herbert Hoover, could end up in the
possession of India-based FE Partners.
Since last summer, the company has provided money to help maintain the
Sequoia owner Gary
Silversmith, who bought the yacht in 2000, nearly a quarter of a century after
President Jimmy Carter had it sold at auction in an austerity measure, said he
needed the $5 million from FE Partners because of the financial burden of
keeping the Sequoia operational.
because Silversmith and his company, Sequoia
LLC, were subsequently slow in repaying the loan, FE Partners decided to
exercise a clause in the loan agreement allowing it to purchase the $13 million
yacht for $7.8 million.
in response, Silversmith, an attorney, has gone to court in New York to block the move.
Silversmith has also charged that FE Partners actually only paid out half of
the promised $5 million, which only added to the yacht’s precarious financial
sad what has happened,” remarked Larry Hutcher, an attorney for Silversmith. “We
tried to amicably resolve the various issues with them, but this company is
what I would call a predatory lender. And there are people like that.”
lost an early round in the matter on Jan. 24 when Judge Charles Ramos of the
New York County Supreme Court said that New York lacked jurisdiction in the
case. Attorney Hutcher has since said that Silversmith will file in a new
its part, FE Partners has released a statement charging that after the initial
loan agreement, the “Sequoia crewmembers and employees notified FE Partners of
liabilities and other matters that had not been previously disclosed as required
under the loan documents,” according to FE Partners officials. “While looking
into these matters on our own, and with the assistance of forensic accountants
and other professionals we subsequently retained, we uncovered a troubling
pattern of financial, tax and other irregularities.”
Hoover, a multimillionaire, liked the Sequoia
because it was more modest in size than his own private 318' vessel and
thus seemed better for the presidential image during the Great
Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman made key World War II decisions while
onboard the yacht, while John F. Kennedy enjoyed his last birthday onboard the Sequoia in May 1963.
to the author Conrad Black, in his monumental 2007 book Richard Nixon: A Life in Full, the Nixon family hated cruising on
the Sequoia, “as they were leered at
by passersby on bridges and from the shore and other boats, and now
it seems clear that the yacht served as the site for one of the most pivotal
moments in presidential history when Nixon, sailing on the Sequoia, finally decided to throw in the towel as president,
resigning from office as a result of the ongoing Watergate scandal in 1974.
the Sequoia was sold in 1977 for
$286,000, it sat in drydock in Virginia and was used for private
charter trips along the Potomac River.
is a sad plight for such a graceful piece of the furniture of our history,”
lamented New York Times columnist
Stephen Pickering in 2003.
purchase of the vessel seemed to promise better things. Hutcher wants the court
to block FE Partners’ move to buy the Sequoia
and forge a new loan agreement with the company: “It’s a valuable vessel
when you think of the people who used it and travelled on it,” the attorney
said. “It is really irreplaceable in terms of memories and events.”